Electrifying Yardfest

With proper investment from the administration and the College Events Board, Yardfest has the potential to bring the entire student body together.

In a spring semester all-too-often characterized by wet and cold Massachusetts weather and the various stressors of school, Yardfest, an annual spring concert held in Harvard Yard, offers a welcome respite for the student body. The event is planned by the College Events Board, a student organization that works under the tutelage of the Office of Student Life to “provide college students with large-scale, free, inclusive events.” Yardfest garners considerable anticipation each year, with CEB typically announcing the headliner a few weeks in advance.

Lamentably, for reasons about which we can only speculate, the announcement of a headliner was delayed until the actual week of Yardfest, much to the hand-wringing of the student body. With three days left before last Friday’s concert, CEB announced that Dutch DJ Tiësto would be headlining the event.

For some, the announcement was exciting news; for others, it was an anticlimactic end to what seemed like a never-ending cycle of speculation and delay. Perhaps many students were unfamiliar with Tiësto’s name, even if they had been exposed to his music before. Perhaps also electronic dance music fatigue set in, with 2016’s Yardfest featuring EDM musician Steve Aoki’s cake-flinging performance.

To be fair, Tiësto is a big deal, and Harvard has a hard time measuring against a performance at the Opening Ceremony of 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens (making him the first DJ to ever perform at the Olympics). His videos have garnered more than 100 million views on YouTube. Though a broader mix of Yardfest headliners might be better received in the future, we’re glad CEB booked a top-notch artist despite the pressure of an impending deadline and a restive student body.

There is, however, much more to Yardfest than the concert itself. For the past two years, it has been preceded by various upperclassman House “block parties” at each of Harvard’s four neighborhoods. These provide the opportunity for upperclassmen to interact in a more intimate and residential setting before making their way over to the festivities in the Yard.

Unfortunately, the block parties faced a slight monetary snafu this year: the Undergraduate Council expected the Office of Student Life to fully fund the tailgates, but received a request the week before Yardfest to provide partial funding. The UC eventually used $3,000 from the Grant for an Open Harvard College—intended to fund one-time events—to host the block parties.

For subsequent Yardfests, Harvard should look to not only to bolster its performers but also to give support to the student events that complement the concert. Since block parties have been so successful, we urge the Office of Student Life to allocate funds on a yearly basis for these types of events. This will ensure that the UC is not stuck with the burden of providing emergency or discretionary funds.

Yardfest is, at its best, a time for the entire student community to come together in a one-day reprieve before the onset of finals and the end of the semester. It takes place in the Yard—the nexus of Harvard College—and has the potential to promote a social atmosphere where all of the student body can come together. Amid campus-wide discussions about inclusivity in social spaces, we hope that the UC and the administration will invest more in the community around Yardfest so the event can reach its full potential.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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